Glass & the future

Glass is everywhere and meets societal needs

Almost no other man-made material provides so many possibilities across so many industries and disciplines

  • Preferred for food and beverages
  • Important role in transportation
  • Key element in architecture & buildings
  • Part of renewable energy strategy
  • Crucial in modern communications
  • Many pharmaceutical, health and science applications.

Glass is an unlimited material whose number of applications is constantly evolving and which is more and more used in combination with other material for high-tech applications. It is unavoidable for health and comfort, to preserve the European heritage (glass techniques, crystal, culture), and as a key actor in local communities (use of local raw materials for local customers).


Thanks to its unique properties, glass is at the cutting-edge of technology

  • Chemical : Corrosion resistance and Inertness
  • Thermal shock resistance
  • Optical :  Reflects, bends, transmits and absorbs light
  • Electrical insulation
  • Mechanical:  Surface is hard (scratch and abrasion resistant) and Elastic

 Its achievements are countless. It enabled huge progress in space exploration, medical research, optics and telecommunications….

 Some areas of Research and Development for the future of glass

  1. Special coatings for buildings:  Smart mirrors and highly insulating glass windows for photosensitive, switchable or electrochromic glazing
  2. Anti-reflection properties and technologies for clean energy generation
  3. Strength: If glass of any type were available at 50 times its current strength, new products and opportunities could emerge in the market place, like ultra thin and light container glass and lighter flat glass and fibreglass for composites. Some applications already render glass stronger by 2 to 6 times
  4. Functional integration in glass that can then become an ideal substrate for OLED lighting, touch screens, audiovisual displays, etc.
  5. But also bendable glass, scratch resistance, audio glass, thinner glass and much more.

 To further increase glass properties, fundamental research is required, in particular on the structure of the glass surface, the chemical reactions on its sites and how these reactive sites interact with molecules.

Hard science and breakthrough in our understanding of the glass substance are needed. It requires substantial investments but positive research outcome could open up unlimited opportunities.


The future of glass could translate in unlimited opportunities

 The outcome of research in all different fields could open up tremendous opportunities for the development of future glass products and the way we currently use glass in various applications. Just imagine:

  • Smart glass bottles and containers whose colour changes depending on the liquid temperature (medicines, wines, perishable products, etc.)
  • Interactive drinking glass
  • Photovoltaic sunroof to provide electricity to hybrid and electric vehicles
  • LED light sources in jewellery
  • Mirrors assessing the health condition of the person standing in front of it
  • Jewellery assessing the cardiac rhythm and body temperature
  • More complex glass shapes and further improved insulation properties to free architects from constraints
  • Smaller and best performing photovoltaic and wind energy electricity generation equipments whose integration would become easier to fulfil most of Europe’s energy needs.